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The coldest sensation of my life streamed through me last week. While kayaking down the James River, I flipped. The water still had ice chucks melting on the surface and couldn't have been much more than 33 degrees. I am new to the kayaking adventures, and I love the outdoors. This is my first spring in South Dakota, and it seems that much of my free time is spent driving on country roads watching ducks and geese swarm fields like beehives.
MENNO -- Menno's Macon Oplinger knew he had one last chance to play with the team that made history. As Menno stepped on the court for the third-place game at the Class B state basketball tournament Saturday in Aberdeen, the junior was the only starter who would be returning the next season. So he wanted to help send the four starting seniors out with a bang. Oplinger scored a game-high 19 points against Elkton-Lake Benton, earning the Wolves their first state-placing finish in 53 years. Offensively, the first game of the tournament was Oplinger's best.
ABERDEEN -- A day after scoring a season-low 30 points in a semifinal loss to White River, the Menno boys' basketball team's offense woke back up. Wolves' point guard Tate Bruckner did a bit of everything to help his team to a 62-46 Class B third-place win over Elkton-Lake Benton Saturday in Aberdeen. Bruckner finished his high school career with eight rebounds, eight assists, seven points, and for the second consecutive game, eight steals. "My job was to penetrate and dish," Bruckner said.
ABERDEEN -- The Avon boys' basketball team -- which finished its season 10-14 overall and started the season off with six straight losses -- came within one shot of taking the Class B consolation championship Saturday in Aberdeen. With 12.7 left on the clock, Matt Dykstra hoped to knock down his final shot as a Pirate. The 6-foot-6 senior forward's pull up 3-point attempt bounced off the front of the rim and ultimately helped Viborg to a 45-43 win. "I was excited to take that last shot. I wanted the ball in my hands," Dykstra said.
ABERDEEN -- With Matt Dykstra scoreless at the half, the Avon boys' basketball team needed contributions from its other scorers. That's when Marshall Cihak and Earv Archambeau picked things up. In the consolation semifinals of the Class B basketball tournament, the Pirates put together a strong defense and a score-when-need-to offense to defeat Hitchcock-Tulare 46-40 Friday in Aberdeen. Avon moves on to play Viborg, which beat Herreid in the other consolation semifinal Friday, at 1:45 p.m.
ABERDEEN -- White River's Chase Fairbanks knocked down two shots all night. But one was the biggest of the game. Trailing by one with about a minute to play, Fairbanks drove inside the lane and threw up a shot that banked off the glass. A loud whistle sounded as the ball fell through the net. It was a blocking foul. The 5-foot-9 guard calmly sank the free throw to give his team a two-point lead, giving the Tigers the momentum late in the game. "We were looking to penetrate, and finally we got inside when Chase had that big play," White River coach Eldon Marshall said.
The Class A basketball tournament opens Thursday in Rapid City, and Parkston has a daunting task to start its state-title run. The Trojans (18-5) are up against defending state champion Platte-Geddes (23-2) in the first round, which is a rematch of a Jan. 27 game that the Black Panthers won, 49-44. The game time is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. central time (6 p.m. MDT).
PLATTE -- It was pitch black outside. Quiet and dark, the town of Platte was asleep. But in one neighborhood, a porch light shined over a driveway with a basketball hoop, while three fourth-grade boys imagined they were playing for the state high school title.
HURON -- Too many penalties. The Mitchell Marlins are the most penalized team in the league. So, heading into the first round of the state tournament Friday, head coach John Lord said a key to the team's game against Huron was keeping out of the box. But when the Marlins finished the game with 32 total minutes in the box, the loss would be the least of the team's worries. "Today's penalties were a little different than the typical penalties they get," Lord said.
With the seventh seed and battling a team it is 0-3 against this year, the Mitchell Marlins boys' hockey team has an uphill battle starting today at the state tournament. The team landed the No. 7 seed after finishing its season 7-12-0. The Marlins face Huron -- which will be playing on its own ice during the tournament -- in the first round at 5 p.m. today. Huron (16-3-2) has beaten Mitchell all three times they've played this year, but each time it was by a tight margin. The All-Stars have scored four goals each time they've played the Marlins and have never won by more than three goals.